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WE THINK WE HAVE THE BABY YOU WANT

 

The trains that brought silent, scared young women to Kansas City's Maternity Homes also delivered beaming couples with bags of diapers and and empty bottles. The city's reputation as a hideout for mid-America's "Unfortunate Young Women" gave it another title; "BABY HUB OF THE UNITED STATES" said Kate Burke, president of the American Adoption Congress in Washington "If you wanted to adopt a child in the 30's, 40's, ad 50's, thats where you went. The thought of corn-fed, wholesome birth mothers who did it in the hay in the barn and got into trouble....made it very attractive. You were getting, quote, unquote, quality babies." How many were adopted here is unclear; early record keeping was sketchy. A former administrator at The Willows once said that home alone took care of 25,000 women in its 64 years of operation. About 90 percent placed their babies for adoption. Investigators from the American Public Welfare Association found the adoption rate in Jackson County- 552 in 1943, 615 in 1944, for example- to be "Three to Four times" the rate elsewhere. More than half the adoptive parents came from out of state. After providing letters from their banker, doctor, and clergyman, couples could pick out a son or daughter and be on the train back to Minneapolis, Tulsa or St. Louis before dusk. "After arrviving in Kansas City, come direct to The Willows and select your Baby", the homes "Directions for Adopting a Baby" said in 1933. "We usually have babies of such diversity of temperament, complexion and physical build as will suit anyone." The 10 paragraphs on a single sheet of paper tell prospective parents; " mail us three good letters of reference....Preferable for both husband and wife to come if possible...Bring with you sufficient cash ($38) to meet the cost of adoption..... "Bring a one-quart Thermos bottle and nursing bottles and nipples.... Have your name selected for naming the child." In 1944 John Ochs and his wife applied to St Anthony's Home for Infants for a girl of German and English extraction. About two weeks later, they wrote us and told us. "We think we have the baby you want," , said Ochs, who was then a shoe merchant in Independence, Kansas. "They never came down to investigate the house or anything. We just went up there and got her. "Everybody went crazy about her. There was all kinds of excitement. Getting that baby changed our life". .